Dream job in the logistics industry

Logistikbeirat Sachsen-Anhalt is looking for young talent in new ways

The Geman federal state of Saxony-Anhalt is using its locational advantage in the centre of Europe to develop its logistics industry. Logistikbeirat Sachsen-Anhalt (a logistics advisory committee based in Saxony-Anhalt) has decided to pool the experiences of service providers and users in this sector and network them. A major issue for the committee is the joint search for modern ways to attract specialist staff.

Martin Berg knew he wanted to be a train driver from the age of three, as both his parents worked on the railways. A secondary school certificate, passion for technology and reliability are the requirements for the three-year course at Mitteldeutsche Eisenbahn GmbH (MEG) in the city of Merseburg in the south of the federal state. In the second year of his course, Martin Berg had been on a shunting locomotive and in the third year he moved long, heavy trains on the electric locomotive. With a train driver's license in his pocket, he now controls shunting and electronic locomotives for MEG.

As a reliable dispatcher, Ariana Strauß controls their routes, so that they can start on time and reach their destination safely. "You have to be communicative and memorise a lot - this is the perfect job for me," says the young lady with a beaming smile. Both young employees are happy to stay in their homeland.

But how do young people find the job that suits them exactly? And what can companies do to help young people find their way into their businesses?

"We recently implemented the idea of advertising for apprenticeships at MEG using image videos," says Michael Koch, managing director of Mitteldeutsche Eisenbahn GmbH. Train driver Martin Berg and dispatcher Ariane Strauß think of themselves as part of this - next to industrial mechanics and mechatronics engineers. "It is many a boy's dream to drive trains and to be able to repair them as well" says MEG's managing director.

Saxony-Anhalt, in the centre of Europe and the middle of Germany, is an important logistics hub. The good connection and dense network of railways, roads and waterways form an economic locational advantage. Logistikbeirat Sachsen-Anhalt was formed in 2008 to accompany the region's development. It sees itself as a network creator between the logistics service providers and users, with the aim of creating the framework conditions for efficient logistics and a modern infrastructure. "We must respond to problems quickly, provide advice and search for specific solutions," says Michael Koch. He is the chairman of the logistics advisory committee and is tackling the skills problem. Demographic development generally makes the search for young talent difficult, but there are aspects in the logistics industry that make matters even worse. "Driving lorries and trains is not exactly a family-friendly profession," says Koch.

"We are in the middle of a thought and discussion process," confirms Karl-Heinz Ehrhardt. The managing director of Magdeburger Hafen GmbH of the port in Saxony-Anhalt’s capital Magdeburg is a founding member of the logistics advisory committee. "Transportwerk" (transport works) is in large letters above the logo of the Magdeburg port. It has its own rail network, which is over fifty kilometres in length and performs shunting services with its own remote-controlled traction vehicles. Huge diggers, wheel bearings and cranes also stand out visibly from a large transhipment point for containers and bulk goods.

In the port, commercial specialists and other experts are trained to carry out haulage and warehouse services. Christian Köhne, Marcus Reckler and Andreas Krzysko did not know beforehand that this would be their dream job.

"Things get moved; everyone knows that. But who does it? Hardly anybody considers the fact that there is an occupational group behind a whole industry", as the three young men know from their own experiences. They themselves could not imagine a more exciting job right now. No working day is like the other. The challenges lie in the optimisation of all logistical processes in the port - from bringing in and unloading ships to transhipment and transportation via freight train or lorry. The telephone does not stop ringing. From time to time, they have to grab their protective helmets and high-visibility jackets, and go and clarify something on-site. Everything doesn't always run smoothly - sometimes emotions run high and as a haulier, you have to develop a certain communicative gift and interact well, say the young men, having just gained their first years of professional experience. For them, "the main thing" is that they can stay at the port after their training. They happened across their apprenticeship places rather incidentally.

Karl-Heinz Ehrhardt and Michael Koch think that a job on the railways, in a port or another area of the logistics industry would be an achievement for many young people. They agree that different approaches must be taken to attract young talent. In the logistics advisory committee “Logistikbeirat”, modern forms of communication and advertising are being discussed heavily. The future will tell whether image films will lead to success, thinks Michael Koch, saying that an app is also being considered, together with the marketing specialists from the Investment and Marketing Corporation Saxony-Anhalt (IMG), the economic development agency of the state. With their help, young people will be able to playfully find out what job in the logistics industry suits them best.

"We must present the entire logistics industry in a modern way and therefore pool the experiences of all companies, in order to become visible as a large, uniform marketing platform," says port director Ehrhardt.

The young hauliers at the Port of Magdeburg rely on everyday experience: they believe that those who love a new challenge as well as a professional routine would fit in perfectly here.

Author: Kathrain Graubaum (text/photo)

Caption: The young hauliers at the Port of Magdeburg see their job as a great adventure: (from left to right) Christian Köhne, port director Karl-Heinz Ehrhardt, Andreas Krzysko and Marcus Reckler.